We were at dinner with friends for another friend's birthday. I saw them walk in, a mother, older, a son, maybe in his early 20's and a father. All seemed relatively normal so I didn't pay much attention. When we all walked in, the family was sitting at a table behind us and I heard the son say something along the lines of, "Girls!" I was then aware that his mental age was maybe 5, maybe 6.
What happened next had a startling affect on me. He began to act out a little. Like any child, he was hungry and when children get hungry they get aggitated. Those of us who have children have all experienced this. All you want is a cracker to shove in their mouths. A kingdom for a cracker.
He was hungry. He was a 5 year old in a 20 year old body that weighed 300lbs and he wanted a fucking cracker. He started his tantrum. It was a 5 year old's tantrum in a 20 year old's body. He began to cry and beg his parents not to make him leave because he was hungry and he would be good. All of this while pushing himself in his chair across the restaurant towards the back and all the while, his mother telling the people around them that they were trying to get him out.
A 5 year old, you can pick up and sling over your shoulder or your hip. Not a 20 year old, 300lb human with the mind of a 5 year old.
I felt his anguish. I felt how badly he wanted a cracker or his dinner. I felt his parents' anguish at having a son who isn't like other sons. Parents who tried to deal with him with calm and patience. Parents who have probably seen this behavior numerous times and who probably hope that this would be the last time but who probably know it won't. Parents who are trying to have a normal life and give their son a normal life but who know it's anything but normal. Parents who live with the stress everyday of not knowing how their son will behave next. Parents just trying to raise a child and give him a cracker.
I felt that to my soul and it hurt. I also heard and saw the reactions of the people around them. The staring. The whispering behind their hands. They were afraid and they were judging and THAT pissed me off. It made me angry and hurt for that family. A family who has a soul that chose them and chose to manifest as a child in an adult's body. A soul that mixed with many souls who were in that moment and all together for a reason. There was something to learn.
Sad thing is, most of those people staring and whispering have missed the lesson. Most didn't feel what I felt or those parents felt or that child felt. They were too wrapped up in having their dining experience messed up by a child who just wanted something to eat.
Most were probably thinking, "There but for the grace of God," and I'm thinking, "There by the grace of God." I realized that though there are times when we struggle with our children, our problems are not nearly as profound or hard as theirs. And while our boys are young with still developing male brains, they are not 5 year olds who only know that in that moment they wanted a fucking cracker. And we are parents who can still handle our boys. And for the most part, we can be confident that when we go out in public, we won't have an incident or episode that disrupts our evening and causes other ignorant people to talk behind their hands and whisper hurtful or judemental things about us. At least not for that reason.
I also realized that the love those parents have for their child is truly unconditional and I felt humbled because I haven't always been able to say that about my children. It had to be unconditional otherwise, why continue to put yourself in that situation? They just want a normal child. They don't have it. I'm sure they are doing the best they can and it's put me to shame. And it should have shamed everyone in that restaurant who has children or who was thinking of having children and who said, "There but for the grace of God," but should be saying, "There BY the grace of God."
I will find and carry that fucking cracker for my children and will remember that incident forever and will remember this lesson everytime I lose my patience with my children.